Study Break | Study Break: Special guests and visitors | April 14, 2016
April 14, 2016
McGovern Medical School has been the focus of special guests and visitors this past week.
Please help me congratulate Dr. Richard Andrassy, Chair of our Department of Surgery, who was celebrated with a wonderful event announcing the Richard J. Andrassy, MD Distinguished University Chair in Pediatric Surgery. Dr. Kevin Lally, Chair of the Department of Pediatric Surgery, will be the first holder of the new chair. The fundraising of this endowed chair was initiated by Dr. Andrassy’s sister, Laura Andrassy, and was heartily supported by many family members, friends, and colleagues. I was pleased to bestow McGovern Medical School’s inaugural “Doctor of Philanthropy” coat to Laura in gratitude for her philanthropic support and leadership. A special thank you also to Johnny and Randi Carrabba who hosted the event in their beautiful home.
Mental health care for the state and Houston was on the agenda during a special visit last week by two members of the Texas House Select Committee on Mental Health and their staff. The committee is charged with reviewing the behavioral health system of Texas and recommending ways to improve early identification of mental illness and increase collaboration among providers. We discussed these topics over dinner with State Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo), State Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, and Development Board members. And faculty and staff from our Department of Psychiatry hosted a full-day visit with the officials, focusing on education, patient care, and research and showed off McGovern Medical School at work with a tour of UT Harris County Psychiatric Center and the Behavioral and Biomedical Sciences Building.
UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven was the guest speaker at the UTHealth Development Board Spring Meeting this week. A strategic thinker and articulate speaker, he was definitely a highlight of the meeting. The Chancellor spoke about his vision for the UT System. He reminded us of the value and importance of servant leadership and that we are here to help the people of Texas. His specific initiatives include providing more funding to attract the best faculty talent to Texas, developing leadership training for students and faculty, and implementation of the Rooney Rule. He also commented on the power of collaboration and support for leveraging the size and scale of the UT System to develop stronger collaborations in health care and research.
In addition to Chancellor McRaven, the Development Board heard enlightening talks from three UTHealth faculty, Dr. Pramod Dash, “Concussions – The Silent Epidemic;” Dr. Cheryl Perry, “Prevention & Health Promotion: Creating Behavioral Change;” and Dr. Mark Wong, “Reconstruction through Regenerative Medicine.”
From the “Wow” file:
Last week, Modern Healthcare released its 2016 list of 50 Most Influential Physician Executives and Leaders, which included Dr. Benjamin Chu, incoming president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, as well as Dr. Ronald DePinho, president of MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Congratulations to Dr. Erin Furr Stimming and her team for winning the designation of a Huntington Disease Society of American Center of Excellence for 2016. The team’s comprehensive approach to Huntington disease is providing the best care for patients and their families.
More than half a million dollars was raised Sunday at the annual Run for the Rose. I was delighted to be a part of this special event. This foundation, created by Marnie Rose’s family, is an inspiring testament to Marnie’s life and legacy. For more than 13 years, the charity has funded pediatric brain cancer research, helping current and future patients and their families.
Today is an important day for mothers and babies. The FDA announced that they support the voluntary supplementation of corn masa flour with folic acid at levels consistent with levels of other enriched cereal grains. The 1996 FDA decision to approve folic acid fortification of enriched cereal grains, such as flour, led to a remarkable decline in spina bifida and anencephaly (neural tube defects, NTDs) in the United States. One area of concern, particularly relevant to the population in Texas, was the lack of fortification of corn masa flour, a staple food for many Hispanic families. Today’s FDA announcement has opened the door to increased prevention, particularly relevant to the mothers and children of Texas. A small proportion of NTDs are not preventable with antenatal folic acid supplementation. Studies of the genetic underpinnings of these cases, including the work of Dr. Hope Northrup and colleagues, remain important to reaching the goal of total prevention of NTDs.
Distributed via email to all McGovern Medical School employees, students, residents, and postdoctoral fellows, Study Break is Dean Barbara J. Stoll's update of news and items of interest. She welcomes feedback via email.